Embracing the body, literally, and what it did to me

IMG_4214As we stood on the bridge it wasn’t my body I was embracing. It was his.

And as I held him every longing in me was met, everything that was unspoken was said, and for just a moment all my questions were answered. The earth didn’t move but the deepest parts of me somehow found their home. It wasn’t about sex, it was about some sort of internal connection, triggered by touch. Triggered by placing my arms around the body of someone who at that moment was everything to me.

He’d looked at me in such a way that I’d asked him to look elsewhere. The intensity of his gaze was too much – he said he wasn’t listening to a word I was saying – all he could think about was how beautiful I looked. And then we were there with arms around each other, bodies entwined. Feeling everything.

Over a short period there were three occasions on which the same feelings occurred, all when we were holding on to each other. Standing on a bridge in the darkness. In the middle of a field. On a bench in a garden. It took my breath away. I thought I might be physically sick;  the intensity of the feelings, the overwhelming nature of the thoughts, was so physical my body didn’t know what to do.

For 20 months I’ve remembered those feelings, and they are moments which much as I’d like to forget, I just can’t. They imprinted on me. They altered something in me. I didn’t know that a person could make me feel with such intensity. 

‘What kind of God do we have who would pack the kind of explosive power touch has into the human body? What kind of God would risk our using for destruction that which he pours into us for our redemption?… Some of us have had that fire touch a dry and ready wick, and the resulting burn was so violent an quick that it seemed like nothing could stop it – and lives exploded. What would make God risk this kind of power in us?’ ( Embracing the Body, Tara Owens)

If you read this blog you’ll know that after the affair ended I was utterly broken and devastated, but my husband and I agreed to stay together and we committed to working on our relationship. It’s been a hard road. The first six months were possibly the hardest of my life. Every day I asked God ‘do I still have to do this?’ and every day I got the answer ‘Yes’.  I held on to hope. I held on to the belief that God would be everything for me. That if I never again in my life experienced moments of intimacy or understanding of the kind I had with the other, it would not be a loss because God would give me that intimacy and understanding. 

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Our marriage is now a better relationship than it ever has been. There is a depth of honesty to it which makes it real and possible. I love my husband. He is incredible.

I haven’t felt the feelings I had when I held the other, but I’ve gone past the point of missing that and wanting that. My life is too full, too rich to have any gaps that need to be filled.

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However a question remains and I articulated it recently when someone asked what the questions of my heart were. My question was this, ‘will I always live with a level of uncertainty about my marriage ? Will it ever feel secure ? Or will I always feel I’m walking with a limp ?  I worry that although it’s good it may not be enough.’ 

“The powers of touch, or the sensual, of our sexuality are heavy, holy things. Those powers have been used to desecrate on another, to harm, to use and abuse… But we also the the power to choose to use our bodies for healing, and in doing so our touch becomes the conduit of God’s love, grace and power. The gift of those powers running through us – sometimes named sexuality, sometimes named sensuality – is that it can and will bring life to others if stewarded well and wisely.” (Embracing the Body, Tara Owens)

A few days ago my husband was speaking on the phone to a member of his family. There’s always been a bit of a divide – when he’s with his family he seems to be theirs and not mine. He was about to go away for a few days and I wanted him to be mine for just a little longer, so as he spoke to them I kissed his neck and tweaked his ear. I was muscling in on his conversation. He didn’t glare at me or push me away and I could see a smile creep into the corners of his mouth. I whispered into the ear that didn’t have the phone held against it. I did my best to get his attention. 

The conversation finished and he looked up at me and smiled. I put my arms around him and without warning I suddenly had all the feelings. 

every longing in me was met, everything that was unspoken was said, and for just a moment all my questions were answered. The earth didn’t move but the deepest parts of me somehow found their home. It wasn’t about sex, it was about some sort of internal connection, triggered by touch. Triggered by placing my arms around the body of someone who at that moment was everything to me.

I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t speak. All I could think was ‘Thank you God.’ My question was answered – I’m not going to miss out on anything in this marriage. It will be enough. When I placed my arms around the man who really is everything to me and to my children, everything in me, everything in my body confirmed the utter rightness of that touch. 

My husband tried to speak to me and I just had to let him know that I wasn’t going to move from where I was. And because he is my husband, and he is mine to hold, and there was nothing but good in what we were doing, I didn’t need to move away or let go or apologise.  

And I began to understand these words;

‘It can and will bring about the healing of emotional scars, the healing of long-held lies about our bodies and self-worth, and even the healing of our very flesh through the union of touch. We were made to touch each other and that matters, deeply.” (Embracing the Body, Tara Owens).

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8 thoughts on “Embracing the body, literally, and what it did to me

  1. Caiobhe,
    Thank you for sharing this brave story. I’ve just spent some time finding out more about this blog, you, your journey of the past two years, and the role of the body in it all. My heart goes out to you and your journey. Thank you for writing so beautifully about the body. As I’ve been practicing yoga, I’ve had to re-learn a lot of the lessons I didn’t learn as an evangelical teenager (when I learned to distrust my body). It’s SUCH an important journey to learn that God speaks to us from inside as well as out. Thank you for sharing. Keep writing!

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    1. Thank you so much for coming to this blog and reading my story. I’ve started taking more classes in yoga, t’ai chi and dance and I know what you mean about the unlearning and re-learning of our bodies. Thanks for your encouragement and it’s great to have you with me on this journey.

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  2. I am so glad that you found that feeling. I’m still hoping for it; it’s not a part of my marriage. There’s deep and abiding love but not that feeling and I try to trick myself into not missing it but I do.

    I love your courage, friend.

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    1. Hi Shelby, I love your courage too in writing about what you miss. It’s hard when you know there are things you want and you maybe will never get them. I certainly didn’t expect this gift. That may be the only time I feel it – who knows! Let’s keep having these honest conversations and knowing that God knows all that we want, and need.

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    1. thank you for your ever continuing encouragement. It was a really amazing answer to prayer. A marker on the journey for me to keep returning to, knowing that God does hear and does understand.

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